Liverpool’s first Anfield match as Premier League champions ended in a 2-0 win after a hard-fought grind of a 90 minutes.
Liverpool 2-0 Aston Villa
Premier League (33), Anfield
July 5, 2020
Goals: Mane 70′, Jones 89′
Alisson (out of 10) – 8
Couple of routine saves, a few more good claims and punches clear. One good stop against a powerful Jack Grealish shot.
Two more stops from Grealish to preserve another clean sheet.
Not looking particularly energetic. Crosses from deep were optimistic and without accuracy. Crossfield passes were better. Fairly lax defensively, particularly late on.
Then he produced the pass of the game, finding space in the box to ping one into the feet of Naby to assist the eventual goal.
Joe Gomez – 6
Used his pace to good effect on recoveries. Nice and strong in duels.
Virgil van Dijk – 7
Same as Gomez mostly, but added in some monster aerial work and plenty of passes forward.
One bad moment where he gifted Villa a dangerous counter-attack, but he recovered to win back the ball himself.
Andy Robertson – 5
Poor first touch at times, missed a few tackles, booked in the first half. Subbed in stoppage time.
Fabinho – 7
Won the ball back plenty, which is good considering the amount the Reds gave it away in that first 45 minutes.
Subbed after an hour.
Bright and lively with his movements, but that wasn’t matched with his actual on-the-ball work.
Gave it away too often, didn’t really take the right option a number of times with switches. Subbed on the hour.
Naby Keita – 7
A few neat moments, a couple of decent wall-passes to initially threaten to open Villa up.
Didn’t get on the ball enough really, and his team-mates were very slow in seeking him out in transition play.
Came up with the all-important pass to open the scoring. Subbed late on.
Mohamed Salah – 6
Started well and looked like our best chance of final-third quality, but got progressively less-accurate in his execution.
Went to ground a couple of times very easily in the box. Nice header down to assist Jones for the second.
Divock Origi – 5
Runs the channels relentlessly but there’s very little invention from him when he does. Put in some crosses, not much else. Subbed on the hour.
Sadio Mane – 8 (Man of the Match)
Worked hard to get himself on the ball in dangerous areas but for about 70 minutes was very, very average when it came to picking and executing the pass. He was, though, the one looking to make things happen in a team of below-par performances.
Then he side-footed a first-time effort in off the bar for his 20th goal of the season for the third season in a row. The main Man-e.
Roberto Firmino (on for Origi, 59′) – 7
Immediately showed neat linkup play to raise the tempo. Curled one toward the top corner, saved by Pepe Reina.
Gini Wijnaldum (on for Oxlade-Chamberlain, 59′) – 6
A few passes went astray, didn’t get to see too much of him in the attacking third.
Jordan Henderson (on for Fabinho, 59′) – 6
The midfield game picked up in speed and intent as soon as he came on.
Curtis Jones (on for Keita, 84′) – 8
Had just over five minutes to make an impact. Went in with a high foot. Pinged one over the bar. Smashed in the game-sealing goal. Job done.
Neco Williams (on for Robertson, 90+3′) – 6
Got an injury-time runout to inch closer to that medal.
Subs not used: Adrian, Elliott, Shaqiri, Minamino
Jurgen Klopp – 7
Picked a nice aggressive lineup, made a couple of changes to keep the team fresh.
Didn’t hang about too long when the dross continued second half and made quite a significant point about standards by bringing his first-choice three on at once.
Just have to wonder why there wasn’t more of a reaction, why this wasn’t more of a ‘Palace’ performance rather than an ‘Everton‘ one.